The arms of New York State were officially adopted in 1778. The center shows a ship and sloop on a river bordered by a grassy shore and a mountain range with the sun rising behind it. Liberty and Justice stand on either side, under an American eagle.
Liberty holds a staff topped with a Phrygian cap, symbolic of the cap given to a Roman slave upon the formal act of emancipation and freedom. This cap was adopted by French revolutionists as a symbol of liberty, especially in the U.S. before 1800.
The figure of Justice is blindfolded and carries a sword in one hand and scales in the other.
These symbols represent the impartiality and fairness required for the assignment of a merited reward or punishment.The banner shows the State motto--Excelsior--which means "Ever Upward."
The following description of the Coat of Arms is provided for those who may be unfamiliar with heraldic terms:
Shield: A blue, unclouded sky with the golden sun and its rays centered behind a range of three mountains, the middle one the highest; below, a ship and sloop under sail, facing each other and about to meet on a river, bordered by a grassy shore fringed with shrubs, all in natural colors.
Crest: (above the shield) On a wreath of blue and gold, an American eagle in its natural colors, facing toward the right (considered a good omen) above a two-thirds global drawing of Earth, showing the north Atlantic Ocean with outlines of its shores.
Supporters: (the two figures on the outside of the shield) appear to be joined with the shield as a unit formed by the extension of the scroll.
Dexter: (To the left of the viewer's eye) The figure of Liberty in natural colors, her unbound hair decorated with pearls. She is clothed in blue with red sandals, a loose robe of red hanging down from her shoulders to her feet. In her right hand, she holds a staff topped with a gold Phrygian cap; her left arm is bent at the elbow, the hand supporting the shield at its top right. A royal crown lies at her left foot, thrown down to illustrate the lessening of power of the English monarchy.
Sinister: (To the right of the viewer's eye) The figure of Justice in natural colors, her unbound hair decorated with pearls. She is clothed in gold with a blue belt fringed in red, wearing sandals and a robe as Liberty and bound about the eyes with a narrow band of cloth. In her right hand she holds a gold handled sword, held erect, and resting on the top left point of the shield; left arm is also bent at the elbow, holding scales in front of her.
Motto: On a silver scroll below the shield, in black type, the word "Excelsior" (Ever Upward).
(Loosely extracted from State Law, Article 6)